Thai government reopens Thailand without quarantine for travelers. According to Koh Samui Sandbox, also called Samui Plus plan, Koh Samui, and nearby islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in Surat Thani province reopened for travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, following the Phuket Sandbox Plan.
What is Samui Plus / Samui Sandbox?
Koh Samui Sandbox (sometimes called Samui Plus Program), similar to “Phuket Sandbox” plan, is a new model to allow foreign travelers who are fully vaccinated to enter Thailand without quarantine. Koh Samui, together with Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao, is set the be a specified route or tourist point to travel. The program started on 15 July 2021 and was revised since 1 October 2021. The vaccinated tourists need to stay no less than 7 nights on the islands if they want to travel elsewhere in the country.
Koh Samui Sandbox Rules
When travelling via Koh Samui Sandbox, you must comply with a number of conditions. On the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, travelers will be more restricted in movement. The rules approved by the Disease Control Committee of Surat Thani Province on 30 September 2021 are as following.
Day 0 (Day of arrival)
Tourists download "Samui Health Pass" and "Mor Chana" applications upon arriving at the Airport.
The first Covid-19 test will be performed at Samui Airport or at a location determined by Koh Samui Command Center.
Upon arriving at Samui Airport, tourists proceed to stay at SHA Extra Plus accommodation in Koh Samui only.
Tourists will be transferred from the airport to the pre-booked SHA Extra Plus certified hotel.
Tourists must remain in the hotel room while awaiting the negative result of the first RT-PCR test.
After getting a negative result of the first COVID-19 test, tourists are allowed to leave the hotel room and can travel freely in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao while staying at SHA Extra Plus hotels during the time.
Travelers need to undergo the second COVID-19 test on Day 6 or 7 (Day 6 test is recommended for Koh Phangan or Koh Tao)
If the result of the second COVID-19 test is negative, a release form will be given and tourists can go anywhere in Thailand.
Who can use Samui Sandbox?
✔️ Vaccinated travelers aged 18 and over need to be fully vaccinated for more than 14 days before departure date and able to provide a vaccination certificate
✔️ Children aged under 18 years old, traveling with parents or guardians, must have a medical certificate with a laboratory result by an RT-PRC method indicating that COVID-19 is not detected no more than 72 hours before their travel date
For the updated policy of traveling with children check Thailand Entry Rules for Children
✔️ Thais and foreigners can join Samui Plus
Eligible Countries for Samui Sandbox
Starting from 1 October 2021, Samui Plus Sandbox program can be used by vaccinated travelers from any country in the world.
Documents Required for Samui Sandbox
International travelers need to apply for Thailand Pass, just like everyone else traveling to Thailand during COVID-19 pandemic. Proper type of Thai visa or eligibility to use Thailand visa exemption will also be needed.
For entering Thailand and using Samui Plus / Koh Samui Sandbox, travelers will need to show COVID-19 vaccine certificate with a vaccine that has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Thai Authority. Proof of vaccination must be submitted when applying for Thailand Pass.
The requirement to have a health insurance policy with coverage including COVID-19 related treatment in the amount no less than 50,000 USD for the total duration of your planned stay in Thailand should also stay in place as it's currently mandatory for everyone entering the country. You can easily buy online the special insurance policy such as AXA Sawasdee Thailand to meet all these requirements
You will also need to present a prepaid booking of Samui Sandbox hotels for 7 nights in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao, inclusive of airport pick up and paid reservation for 2 RT PCR COVID-19 tests on the islands on Day 0 and 6 (or 7) of your stay.
At least the first night must be booked at SHA Extra Plus hotel on Koh Samui and include the hospital fee for both RT-PCR COVID-19 tests as well as airport pickup. After that you may move twice to other SHA Extra Plus hotels during the 7 nights of Samui Sandbox stay (up to 3 hotels in total) but all hotels must be pre-booked in advance and booking confirmations need to be uploaded when applying for Thailand Pass.
Air ticket for a direct international flight to Koh Samui or international flight via Bangkok that must be connected with approved sealed flights (PG5125 or PG5171) on one ticket. Separate booking of domestic flight from Bangkok to Samui will not be accepted!
To enter Koh Samui by using Samui Plus model, tourists will have to present the COVID-19 free certificate issued within 72 hours before departure to Thailand and a vaccination certificate, as well as undergo a COVID-19 test at the airport.
Samui Sandbox Hotels
Despite the fact that there is no quarantine requirement, arriving tourists under Samui Sandbox scheme are restricted to stay at approved accommodations.
After the arrival to Koh Samui, 7 nights must be spent at the chosen Samui Sandbox Hotels. The first night must be spent at SHA Extra Plus hotel on Koh Samui!
SHA Extra Plus certified hotels in popular areas of Koh Samui:
- Chaweng Beach SHA Extra Plus Hotels
- Chaweng Noi Beach SHA Extra Plus Hotels
- Choeng Mon Beach SHA Extra Plus Hotels
- Lamai Beach SHA Extra Plus Hotels
- Mae Nam Beach SHA Extra Plus Hotels
- Bophut Beach SHA Extra Plus Hotels
- Samui SHA Extra Plus Hotels in Other Areas
After receiving the negative result of the first test, you will be allowed to travel freely around Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao but you will have to stay at accommodation with SHA++ certificate, which is issued by Thai government for safety and health measures standards. You will need to stay at SHA Extra Plus hotels for no less than 7 nights and the hotel(s) will need to be pre-booked in advance.
NOTE! After the latest change of regulations on 11 January 2022, most of Thai Embassies mention that currently only bookings of SHA Extra Plus hotels are acceptable when applying for Thailand Pass for Samui Sandbox program. However, conflicting information can be found regarding booking of multiple hotels as some sources say that booking of SHA+ certified hotel is sufficient for the second hotel used under this program. While we are still waiting for official clarification of this issue, please be noted that at the moment SHA Extra Plus hotels are available only in Koh Samui and Koh Tao as Koh Phangan hotels have only SHA+ certificate as they don't have approved partner hospitals for making the mandatory COVID-19 tests yet.
The list of Sandbox hotels in different islands can be found below:
You can book Samui Sandbox hotels via OTA (such as Booking.com, Agoda.com), travel agencies or directly with hotels. The booking of hotel for the first night on Koh Samui must be inclusive of airport pick up and two RT-PCR tests. When booking your stay with Booking.com, send the special request for your hotel to arrange the airport pick up, COVID tests and issue the confirmation. You must upload your SHA Extra Plus hotel confirmation in the Thailand Pass system for getting an approval to enter the country.
Popular Samui Sandbox Hotels
TOP 10 most popular Samui Sandbox hotels between our readers:
1. Rocky’s Boutique Resort - a private and secluded boutique Samui resort on Lamai Beach
2. Bo Phut Resort & Spa - a luxurious and secluded hideaway on Samui's Bophut Beach
3. Samui Paradise - luxurious suites and villas with private terraces on a quiet strip of Chaweng Beach
4. Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui - the luxurious resort on Chaweng Noi Beach
5. Banana Fan Sea Resort - resort located at the south end, the most beautiful part of Chaweng Beach
6. The Lamai Samui (formerly Le Méridien Koh Samui) is a chic and intimate beachfront resort on Lamai Beach
7. Melati Beach Resort & Spa - luxurious resort, situated on a secluded beachfront of Choeng Mon Beach
8. Sheraton Samui Resort - the perfect beachfront accommodation amidst the serenity of Chaweng Noi Beach
9. Chaweng Regent Beach Resort - resort, enveloped in breezy elegance and shaded by majestic coconut trees
10. SALA Samui Chaweng Beach Resort - Koh Samui’s stunning 5-star pool villa beach resort and spa
How to transfer between islands
Tourists must travel between islands from the following piers only:
- Koh Samui: Lom Phraya No Phra Lan. Buri Rosa (hotel guests only) and Phu Yai Non
- Koh Phangan: Thong Sala
- Koh Tao: Ban Mae Hat (Sala Vibhavadi)
- Boats to Mu Ko Ang Thong: Na Thon Municipal Pier
It is recommended to check inter-island boat schedules prior to booking accommodations.
The first COVID-19 test will be made upon arrival at Samui Airport or at a location determined by Koh Samui Command Center. During your stay, on 6 or 7 day an additional COVID-19 RT-PCR test will need to be completed. The tests should be booked and paid beforehand.
List of Surat Thani COVID-19 Test Centers
Koh Samui Swab Center
- Koh Samui Hospital Tel. 077 913 200
Koh Phangan Swab Centers
- Koh Phangan Hospital Tel. 077 377034
Koh Tao Swab Centers
- Koh Tao Hospital Tel. 077 456 490
Flights to Koh Samui Sandbox
Passengers seeking to travel to Koh Samui should contact airlines directly for current flights and travel requirements.
For using Samui Plus Sandbox program, you need to take a direct international flight to Koh Samui.
Another option is taking an international flight via Bangkok that must be connected with approved sealed flights listed below. For the flight via Bangkok, the ticket must be issued on the same booking with international flight in conjunction with such approved Bangkok-Samui-Bangkok flights. Domestic flight reservations booked separately are not allowed!
Special flights reserved for the international transit/transfer passengers with inbound/outbound connection to/from Bangkok (booking of these flights is allowed when in conjunction with international flights only!):
From Bangkok to Koh Samui (BKK-USM)
- PG 5125: departure 12:00 – arrival 13:30
- PG 5171: departure 17:10 – arrival 18:40
From Koh Samui to Bangkok (USM-BKK)
- PG 5126: departure 14:10 – arrival 15:40
- PG 5172: departure 19:20 – arrival 20:50
Flight from Phuket to Koh Samui can also be used for entering Samui.
How to Transfer at Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Arrival and disembarkation is at GATE E10 at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
- Airline staff will escort passengers to the Health Control Checkpoint at Concourse F.
- Go through the Immigration process at the FAST-TRACK area.
- Airline staff will escort passengers to the security checkpoint and wait at GATE D4.
- Board at GATE D4 and take the bus to embark the Bangkok Airways aircraft at the Remote Parking Stand.
Koh Samui Opening for Tourists Timeline/News
Updated 1 October 2021
The duration of the mandatory stay on the islands under Samui Plus program for vaccinated tourists has been reduced from 14 days to 7 days.
Updated 18 June 2021
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has provided the initial information on the the Samui Plus (Surat Thani) for Samui-Phangan-Tao Sealed Routes model to safely reopen Koh Samui to fully vaccinated international travellers from 15 July as follows,
Reopening guidelines for Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao):
- Foreign travellers must travel from countries/regions with a low to medium risk of SAR-CoV-2 virus as announced and constantly updated by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). They must also have already stayed in the said countries/regions no less than 21 days before the travel date
- Thai nationals and foreign expatriates must travel from countries/regions with a low to medium risk of SAR-CoV-2 virus as announced and constantly updated by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH)
- They must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a vaccine registered with the MoPH or approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) no less than 14 days before the travel date, and must have a vaccine certificate to verify their vaccination
- Children under 6 years of age are allowed when travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians
- Travellers who have a history of COVID-19 infection must also be fully vaccinated no less than 14 days before the travel date
- Travellers must have a medical certificate with an RT-PCR laboratory result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before departure
- Travellers must have a COVID-19 health insurance policy with a minimum coverage of 100,000 USD
- Undergo Immigration and Customs procedures, and a COVID-19 screening, including RT-PCR tests;
- Download and install the alert application;
- Go directly to your reserved hotel to await the test results;
- Arrivals to Phuket must check-in at the pre-booked SHA Plus-certified accommodation establishment;
- Arrivals to Ko Samui must check-in at alternative local quarantine (ALQ) facilities;
- If tested negative for COVID-19, travellers to Phuket can go anywhere in Phuket. Travellers to Ko Samui can leave their room for facilities and services within their accommodation only.
- During the 1st - 3rd nights, travellers can leave their room for facilities and services within their accommodation only.
- During the 4th - 7th nights, travellers can travel on specified routes within Koh Samui only.
- During the 8th - 14th nights, travellers can travel between Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
- Undergo a COVID-19 test using an RT-PCR method per the MoPH’s guidelines
- Travellers are advised to strictly follow the DMHTTA precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- D – Distancing,
- M – Mask wearing,
- H – Handwashing,
- T – Temperature check,
- T – Testing for COVID-19, and
- A – alert application.
- For travelling from Samui-Phangan-Tao to other Thai destinations, travellers are required to show proof that they have completed a 14-night stay along with the other required documents per the guidelines and measures announced by the respective province of destination.
Updated 1 April 2021
Thailand has shortened quarantine period
Thailand announced a 3-phase plan to reopen country.
The first stage had to run from April to June, allowing vaccinated tourists to undergo quarantine at government-approved ASQ or ALQ hotels for a shorter period. According to the regulation regarding COVID-19 preventive measure when entering Thailand from April 2021, the mandatory quarantine period was reduced from 14 days to 7 days for vaccinated travelers and 10 days for all non-vaccinated visitors from countries with no mutated strain of SAR-CoV-2 virus. Those arriving in Phuket have to stay at ALQ quarantine hotel at their own expense.
The second stage is scheduled to be implemented from July to September with a start from the island of Phuket where foreign tourists with the vaccine will not be quarantined.
The third stage is planned to take place from October to December, where Krabi, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai will join Phuket and will started accepting vaccinated tourists without quarantine.
Full reopening of the country is expected to take place in January 2022.
Updated 26 March 2021
Phuket Sandbox Approved
The Phuket Sandbox roadmap has been approved by the Center for Economic Situation Administration (CESA). Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said that the meeting agreed on the roadmap for accepting vaccinated foreign tourists who must have a negative COVID-19 test to be able to travel to Phuket without quarantine, known as Phuket Sandbox. In the third quarter of 2021, Phuket area is planned to be opened for tourists without quarantine.
Upon success of this plan, in the fourth quarter of 2021 it would be implemented in other popular tourist destinations such as Chonburi (Pattaya), Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phang Nga and Surat Thani (Koh Samui). However, tourists must comply with the measures against COVID-19 as well as have a completed vaccination with the required number of doses and be tested for COVID-19.
Further Updates on Thailand Reopening
There are still many uncertainties regarding Koh Samui Plus and further reopening of Thailand, so we would recommend contacting your local Thai embassy before making any plans or reservations.
In the meantime, follow our Facebook page for the newest updates on traveling to Thailand.
Keep in mind that during COVID-19 pandemics the rules and regulations are often changed, sometimes even at the last moment. We advise you to contact Thai embassy or consulate in your country to make sure the information is always up to date.